Hello everyone! Life here in Manchester continues as usual. I have a feeling the rest of my time abroad will fly by because from here on out, my weekends and weekdays are booked up with travel, school, or both. Today, though, I’m here to tell you about the most unique experience I’ve gone through so far: my solo trip to Belfast!
As a 21 year old small female, I certainly had my doubts about going on this trip alone. However, the $30 round-trip tickets to Belfast were literally begging me to buy them. The trip was Monday – Wednesday, and I figured most of my friends would have classes they couldn’t miss. However, it aligned perfectly with my schedule and I wanted to test my limits and my confidence. So, I booked it and went ahead with planning. When Monday came along, I hopped on the bus and headed straight to the airport with one small backpack and a ton of nerves.
Landing in Belfast took no more than an hour, and when I landed it was dark, cold, and rainy. After my Uber dropped me off at the hostel and I checked in, I felt a good sense of accomplishment and comfort. I wandered through the city, ate dinner, and slept soundly (added bonus that no one else had booked a bed in my room, so I had it all to myself!!). The next day I had booked a bus tour to Giant’s Causeway (pictured below) and it stopped at multiple different historic locations. The bus driver was so friendly and told us so much about the history of these places and of Northern Ireland in general! The wind and rain started to pick up when we neared the Causeway which was a huge bummer, but I still saw the gist of the beautiful coastline.
My flight back to Manchester departed at 6:30 am the next morning. After my $37 Uber ride, I decided to try and take the bus to the airport this time. I left the hostel at approx. 3 am and walked about 15 minutes through an INTENSE wind and rain storm to get to the bus station. I’m talking wind that almost blew me over and rain that soaked me through my puffy rain jacket. To make matters even better, the night gate to the bus station was closed. So there I was, wet, cold, and confused, banging on the bus station gate at 3 in the morning- all by myself. I was about to call it quits and Uber, but a taxi driver across the street told me that the station opens its gates at about 3:40. So I walked over to a small awning to get shelter from the rain and waited for the 300 bus to show up and the gates to open.
It was the longest wait of my life, but it finally happened and I boarded the coach at around 3:45 am. I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare before my flight, so I rewarded myself with coffee and a little breakfast.
I found myself so relieved to be home when I landed in Manchester, which is a weird concept considering that only a few short months ago this place was completely foreign to me. Confidence really does go hand in hand with familiarity. However, in my opinion, the true way to test your confidence is stepping outside your comfort zone, which I definitely did during this trip. I trusted myself and my instincts to get me where I needed to go and enjoyed the views along the way. There are so many uncertainties when traveling. To face them on your own makes it all the more scary, but all the more rewarding, too.